So that was good. Not amazing, but the Bike Plan appears to be moving forward. The turnout was modest, maybe 40 people, but perhaps fewer than the input meeting from 2010, a similar event that preceded this plan initiative. City engineer Noreen Houseright introduced Wednesday’s meeting, and consultant Kevin St. Jacques explained the goals of the plan, saying “If you see people out riding bikes, that’s a sign of community vitality.” Water Utilities director Jim Coulter spoke to the crowd about funding and timeline, describing the short, medium, and long term goals. Jim’s straightforward support bodes well for the plan, as Streets/Traffic is under Water Utilities in Denton. Similar support from other departments like Planning and Parks & Rec could really make the bike-friendly push well-rounded with bike-parking requirements downtown and trail building. As Ft. Worth follows through on its ambitious bike plan, we call attention to the fact that it was championed by their Planning department.
Cyclists again (like 2010) marked desired destinations and routes on city road maps, and at separate tables they talked with members of the Bicycle Plan focus group. See the proposed route map here, which includes a curious gap on W. Oak St in the historic neighborhood. Previous conflict was caused by a city plan to widen the traffic lanes, which would squeeze out either parking or bike lanes, and that created a polarizing divide between the neighborhood and cyclists. Recent conversations with neighborhood residents indicates support for bike lanes, especially since they help calm traffic, as long as the lane widths stay the same (or shrink) and parking remains intact.
Below, you can see the citizens’ spending priorities ranked with yellow stickers, with bike-lane expansion as the overwhelming top priority.
The city also showed maps with of potential bike and pedestrian paths crossing under I35E, which would have to wait till the $4 billion TXDOT I35E expansion plan receives funding. A few large suggestion sheets showed citizen comments for increased bicycle and vehicle enforcement, education for drivers and cyclists, and a recommendation for the city to hire a full-time Bicycle/Pedestrian coordinator.
While the meeting was good overall, it mostly covered street accommodations for bikes, and didn’t address bike parking or signal timing, two common requests from cyclists. Water Utilities director Jim Coulter explained that the short range plan would include restriping, signage, and bicycle accommodations in ongoing projects like Mayhill and Bonnie Brae. Longer term plans would include CIP and grant funding and an expansion of the city’s Mobility Plan.
With city council elections nearing in May, and the possibility of having even more council members supporting biking and walking, the Bike Plan will move forward.